By Nicole Ransom & Heidi Ross
Summary by Elizabeth Auer
Elizabeth Lawton was born November 12, 1912 in York, North Dakota to James McCarthy of Laverne, Minnesota and Gertrude Brown of Utica, Missouri. She is the youngest of her three older brothers Jay, Hiram and Donald. As she was told, Elizabeth “ruined their baseball team,” but her mother wasn’t going to stop until she had a girl. Elizabeth’s father James attended law school at the University of Minnesota. She remembers him as a very considerate man. Her mother Gertrude was the most kind and loving person of anyone she ever knew. Her parents met when her mother walked into the bank her father owned; he winked at her and they were married a year later.
Elizabeth grew up in York, North Dakota for most of her childhood. She attended high school in the small town of Minnewaukan, North Dakota. She left for Steamboat Springs, Colorado after high school, where she attended Perry Mason School of Dance. She then attended college at the University of Michigan. Elizabeth headed to Billings, Montana to teach dance during the start of the Depression. Her favorite type of dance was modern. There she met Doctor Leland Russell who was a surgeon in Billings Montana, and they married in 1939. They first had a daughter Roslyn. Elizabeth was pregnant with their son Gordon when her husband Leland was leaving for Pearl Harbor. She delivered their son one week after he left. She was widowed in 1954.